RunningStrong wrote:Lord Jim wrote:
The 81mm would still have a role, especially for lighter units, though many nations use 120mm mortars for such units as in a basic form they can be towed by most 4x4 and can still be brought into action very quickly. They might not be as accurate as the SP mortars which are able to have some type of FCS added but still useful.
Towed systems have a FCS too. And towing equipment like the MO-120 is not the issue, but at nearly 20kg a round carried, you need a sizeable vehicle that can tow, carry 4 gunners and carry sufficient rounds. And then your in-out action times in a counter battery fires conflict are extended.
Lord Jim wrote:
The range at which the infantry can begin to engage an enemy will enable them to suppress an enemy before they are in range of the latter's own weapons including heavier weapons like the RPG. They will need however a means to engage the enemy's support weapons, like their mortars and shorter range artillery, that in integral to the Infantry units rather than relying on higher level artillery which is more likely to be engaging targets further behind said enemy.
That is not integral to the infantry at all. And if you start applying that scope creep then you might as well lump every job onto the infantry and tell them to sort themselves out.
Counter battery fire is an artillery role, with RA units working closely with the manoeuvre arm commander to meet their needs. The MAC and the infantry, are not trained in artillery directing.
To further build on your point about fighting the next war, counter battery also requires the correct sensor systems to do so, as well as the ISR assets to direct NLOS fire missions. How do infantry do that?
Lord Jim wrote:
The greater weight of the 120mm ammunition will have little effect on the SP weapons, but the introduction of UGVs will most likely alleviate this issue for light units.
At nearly 20kg a round that's just not true. Plus the volume requirements. An 81mm round is a quarter of that by a quick datasheet check.
Yes I know the rounds for the 120mm are heavier than those of the 81mm mortars, but the effect of an individual 120mm round is also considerably greater then that of a 81mm. The same can be said comparing the 105mm light gun and a 155mm SP Gun, yet the 105 is seen by many nations as a secondary weapon today, with the 155mm, especially SP versions becoming the default artillery support.
The towed weapons, even the clones of the WWII 120mm Russian mortar that proliferates around the would can be brought into action in less than a minute due to its cradle, fire three or four rounds, be placed back in its cradle, hooked up to the towing vehicle and be on the move in a remarkably short time. A JLTV for example could carry the crew and sufficient rounds for its towed 120mm to carry out a number of fire mission before needing to be restocked. The 120mm also has the advantage of being able to be given precision guidance kits and also able to carry submunition. The much higher angle of a mortar of any size makes it far more effective in urban or close terrain than artillery such as the 155mm.
The heavy and light BCTs are going to be self contained and therefore will need to use their networked capabilities and situational awareness to identify targets and engage them with the most appropriate weapons system. At most a BCT will have a single Regiment of Artillery, most likely being a wheeled SP155mm. In peer conflicts the BCT will face far more enemy Artillery assets and the Artillery regiment will be mainly trying to nullify these, hopefully with some support for the Deep Fires BCT. This means the main indirect fire support for close and medium engagements will be the integral Mortars of the Infantry Battalions, as well as any NLOS missile systems that are part of the BCT. It will be the BCTs ISR assets that will be key to identifying the enemy, and this is one of the key new capabilities the BCTS will introduce complimenting the integrated digital network linking all units, vehicles and many personnel.
As for the volume requirement, one precision 120mm bomb will most likely be more effective on a given target then four or more 81mm bombs. Even for light units that may still be equipped with the 81mm mortars, the use of UGVs is going to become the norm to carry such weapons, except for small specialist units that may still manpack the weapons. There the added weight of the 120mm should be mitigated.
However until we see the actual size and shape of the new BCTs all of the above is probably the more glass half full position, and the Army could go for options that I would see as being glass half empty. Our small BCTs are going to have to fight in new ways and punch above their weight against a far more numerous foe. If they do not receive the added firepower our units desperately need then we will be little better off than we are now, still being outnumbered and out gunned but at least we may know where our end is coming from.